Fashion’s dirty secret: plastic in fashion and its microfiber pollution
The entwined obsession with plastic and fast fashion has finally merged into plastic in fashion. As the oceans and wildlife drown in plastic waste, our fashion choices are fuelling the destruction of the seas. Fashion is the main culprit in the release of the oceans invisible polluter -microfibers. There is an estimated 1.4 million trillion microfibers that are poisoning the oceans. Microfibers from fashion is the industry’s invisible toxin.
Where do microfibres from fashion come from?
We find this invisible pollutant in the garments we wear. As we check the labels of clothes, it is very likely that we read polyester. Polyester is derived from petroleum and in its most simplest form is a plastic thread. As plastic in fashion accelerates, the consequences of our clothing become apparent within the natural world. As Friends of the Earth reports, one load of washing could release up to 17 million microfibers into the water system. Furthermore, The Guardian reports that up to 40% of these microfibers from fashion manage to get through the water treatment facilitates, straight into rivers and oceans.
The impacts of microfiber pollution from plastic in fashion
Furthermore, once these fibres reach the ocean and rivers they absorb other pollutants such as motor oil, pesticides and harsh industrial chemicals that have also leaked into the oceans. Plankton and fish then ingest these polluted microfibers. Once ingested by animals, bioaccumulation occurs up the food chain, where the toxicity of these microfibers increases. Scientists have found fish for human consumption full of these microfibers. In addition, the scale of this problem is much larger than once thought. We find these fibres in the deepest depths of the oceans and also within the air we breathe.
Your recycled plastic clothing is perpetuating the impacts of the microfiber crisis
Moreover, as fashion is littered with many unwanted truths, many brands promote the use of clothing made from recycled plastic bottles. Initially this seems a great way to reuse and reduce plastic waste. However, these garments are shedding plastic pollution straight back into the oceans. As these garments are being washed they release more microfibres back into the water systems. It seems there is no escape from the plastic in fashion and its microfiber pollution.
So what can we do to reduce our microfiber pollution?
A key way to reduce your microfiber pollution is to reduce and then eliminate all plastic consumption. So watch out from food packaging to your clothing choices. Check out alternatives to plastic packaging to find out more on reducing your plastic consumption.
Wash at low temperatures
Washing your clothing at low temperatures helps in reducing the amount of microfibers shed.
Use a Guppy bag
The company claims that by putting your laundry into these bags when washing, we release less microfibers into the water system.
Use a front load washing machine
Top loading washing machine causes 6x more microfiber shedding than a front load washing machine.
Become fashion smart
The best way to reduce your microfiber pollution from fashion is to stop buying these polluting materials. For example, instead of a polyester fleece opt for a wool fleece. This reduces your microfiber output and reduces your impact on ocean pollution.
By Esme Bourne